January 12, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Back to the Books

Since I start law school again tomorrow, following is a brief summary of the courses I'll be taking, in case any of you are interested (if you are, you probably won't be by the time you reach the bottom of the page). The course load for the first year is pretty standard, so it's typically the same regardless of where you go to law school. In addition to the following courses, I had Criminal Law last semester. Since that class is now out of the way, the course load for this semester is lighter; but I hear the difficulty level for the remaining subjects gets ratcheted up to compensate.

Civil Procedure
I like to think of this course as learning the rules of the game. The concepts we explore in CivPro can be challenging to grasp. Try to imagine learning how to play baseball without actually playing the game—or watching it being played. Some of the major topics in CivPro include determining proper jurisdiction; the trial process, from pre-trial pleadings to appeals; conflicts between state and federal law; and many other stimulating subjects. (As the title implies, this course deals with civil suits, not criminal trials; Criminal Procedure is a second-year course.)

This course deals with how the law enforces agreements. Among many other topics, we cover contract formation and interpretation; breach of contract and damages therefore; fraud; and much more. This is by far the most theoretical of all my courses, so it can sometimes be hard to get my hooks into it. However, it'll be an important foundational course if I end up going into any kind of corporate or entertainment law field.

Lawyering Skills
While this course only counts as one credit, and is graded Pass/Fail, most lawyers will tell you it's one of the most important. As the title implies, the course teaches skills for being a lawyer, such as legal research and writing—the tools which I'll use immediately upon graduating. This semester, we will learn how to write an appellate brief, then will present and argue the brief in front of a mock judge.

Most people consider this one of the hardest courses. While I would agree that it's challenging, I also find it the most interesting of my first-year subjects. We deal with the rights and obligations that arise out of property interests. This semester, we'll delve into marital interests/community property; leasehold estates (landlord/tenant law); and land use issues.

This course explores the principles involved in determining whether an injured person should be compensated for harm caused by another, including such topics as intentional harms, negligence, and strict liability. Whenever you hear about gargantuan jury awards in civil cases (such as tobacco cases), it's generally a case involving some kind of tort.

While this may all seem like really dry material, especially for a creative person like me, I do find much of it fascinating. I can't say whether I'll truly enjoy practicing law, but I can say that what I've learned about the law so far is quite interesting. And there are many things one can do with a law degree besides practicing law. My biggest concern about law school right now is managing the cost of law school....


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

Today's Column
Send a Comment


1/11: America's Finest Climate
1/10: Sunshine in a Bottle
1/9: What Would Jesus Drive?
1/8: Southwestern Sojourn
Wheel of Fortune
Class Warfare
1/5: Very Large Dream
The New Nuclear Age
Going Solo
New Year, Old Cave
1/1: All Things End

Like what you've read?
Find more good reading on

In Association with Amazon.com

(and help me pay for law school)